Our techs are working on the login issue. Until then, I will post the text of our stories from SEC Media Days in a thread below. It isn’t ideal, but it is a solution that will allow the stories to be read.
Headline: Razorbacks have league’s attention now
by Tom Murphy
ATLANTA — A lot of media types like the Arkansas Razorbacks to challenge near the top of the SEC West or make noise as a dark horse candidate in the conference.
Third-year University of Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman, who has sparked a turnaround and galvanized the Razorback fan base, would rather not hear media being high on the Hogs.
He said as much from the main podium at SEC Media Days on Wednesday when he was asked if Arkansas has “arrived” as a program.
“Oh, no, no, no, no,” Pittman said. “Arkansas is just trying to compete. We’re trying to get better. We’re trying to fight hard. … We’re the underdog. We like it that way.”
No matter how the Razorbacks are characterized, these are the facts.
Arkansas went 9-4 last season, a six-win improvement from 2020 and more wins than the Hogs had accumulated the previous three years. Pittman’s second club went 4-4 in the SEC, the program’s second break-even year or better in league play since going 6-2 (and 11-2 overall) in 2011.
The trio of quarterback KJ Jefferson, linebacker Bumper Pool and safety Jalen Catalon — perhaps the biggest star power Arkansas has sent to Media Days in years — woke up at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday to fly to Atlanta and face questions about Arkansas becoming a rising force in the harsh SEC West.
“We’re glad that people are starting to see what we’re capable of doing,” Catalon said. “At the same time, you’ve just got to go out and prove yourself and show what you can do every single year.
“Every team’s hungry. Every team wants to get to the very top. So it’s all about how you take care of your team and how you take care of yourself and how you take care of the whole environment around you.”
Pool’s first two teams at Arkansas went 2-10 in 2018 and ’19, with no SEC wins in 16 tries. He’s been a key component in the turnaround.
“I’ve been through the ups and downs with this team, so expectations aren’t really a thing with me,” he said. “This year we know what it takes to win, and I know what happens when you lose. For us, expectations are just outside noise. We’re focused on us.”
Jefferson’s rise in the dual-threat ranks of college quarterbacks played a key role in the Razorbacks’ big run in 2021, which included an MVP turn in Arkansas’ 24-10 win over Penn State in the Outback Bowl.
He thinks the buzz around the Hogs is a product of the mentality Pittman has instilled.
“It just comes with that hard-nosed football and having a chip on our shoulder and each and every day working and just building a bond with each other,” Jefferson said.
Year 2 as Arkansas’ starting quarterback finds a more confident Jefferson.
“It’s very different, just having the confidence that I didn’t have last year going into it,” he said. “Just very nervous, stressed out. Am I going to make mistakes? Am I going to do this? Am I going to do it right?
“So just being able to come in now and know that I have what it takes to be in this league. I have what it takes to take my team into a 10-win season this year and just having that success and showing that our program is still on the rise.”
To get to 10 wins, the Razorbacks have to find one more win against an uncompromising schedule. Arkansas faces two College Football Playoff teams from a year ago, starting with the season opener against Cincinnati, and takes on a five-game stretch that features dates against Texas A&M and Alabama, followed by road games against Mississippi State, BYU and Auburn.
“It’s a challenging schedule again,” Pittman said. “I think this is the third year in a row, only been here three years, so I know it’s the third year in a row that we’ve been awarded the toughest schedule in college football.
“All 12 of this year’s opponents made post-season play last year.”
In addition to the American Athletic Conference Bearcats, Arkansas faces independent powerhouse BYU, which is 21-4 the last two years, Liberty and Missouri State on the non-conference slate.
The storylines for the final two games will be rampant. Former Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino will bring in the Bears on Sept. 17 for a 6:30 p.m. game. Former Arkansas State and Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze will travel into town with Liberty on Nov. 5.
“We’re excited about our non-conference opponents this year,” Pittman said.
Catalon said the off-season buzz has been welcome.
“It’s different for sure,” he said. “You look at us a couple of years ago and most people weren’t picking us to win more than one or two games. Now you’re looking at us and everybody’s comparing us with the top of the SEC.
“With some people we’re still down low but it doesn’t matter to us. For us, it’s just about football. We just want to put a ball out there and go play. It doesn’t really matter about the standings or whether outside people validate us.
“At the end of the day, there’s only one way to find out. You’ve got to put the ball down and you’ve got to go play eventually. That’s the moment I’m waiting for. When that time comes we’ll see where we stack up at.”
Arkansas 2022 Schedule
Sept. 3 Cincinnati, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Sept. 10 *South Carolina, 11 a.m. (ESPN)
Sept. 17 Missouri State, 6 p.m. (ESPN+)
Sept. 24 #*Texas A&M
Oct. 1 *Alabama
Oct. 8 *at Mississippi State
Oct. 15 at BYU
Oct. 29 *at Auburn
Nov. 5 Liberty
Nov. 12 *LSU
Nov. 19 *Ole Miss
Nov. 25 *at Missouri
- Arlington, Texas
- SEC game
LAST SEASON 9–4, 4-4 (t3rd SEC West)
COACH Sam Pittman (12-11 in 3rd year at Arkansas and overall)
RETURNING STARTERS 12: Offense 6, Defense 4, Specialty 2
KEY PLAYERS QB KJ Jefferson, LB Bumper Pool, S Jalen Catalon, C Ricky Stromberg, RB Rahiem Sanders, WR Jadon Haselwood, RT Dalton Wagner, DE Zach Williams
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR Kendal Briles (3rd year)
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR Barry Odom (3rd year)
SEC WEST TITLE SCENARIO Arkansas’ schedule is as challenging as it gets, so winning “swing” games — as the Razorbacks did over Texas A&M, Texas, Mississippi State, LSU and Missouri last year — is paramount. Jefferson will need to stay healthy, the deep passing game will have to be a factor and the defense must generate a quality pass rush to give the Hogs a chance.
Headline: SEC Media Days Report
by Matt Jones, Bob Holt and Tom Murphy
ATLANTA — A recurring topic at SEC Media Days has been the University of Arkansas’ 40-21 victory over soon-to-be SEC rival Texas last September.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey mentioned the game Monday in relation to maintaining rivalries within the structure of a new scheduling model that has yet to be determined after Texas and Oklahoma join the league, and he did so again Wednesday during an appearance on SEC Network.
“People forget the history that exists between Arkansas and Texas, dating back to just incredible games in the ‘60s,” Sankey said. “Having been there in Fayetteville last fall for the game, it got a little bit more active on the field after the game than we like, but that’s enthusiasm.”
The Razorbacks were fined $100,000 by the SEC after fans rushed the field. It was Arkansas’ first victory over the Longhorns in Fayetteville since 1981.
“I remember the police officers telling me we can’t go shake hands because the crowd is going to go crazy out here. It’s going to be unsafe,” Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman said Wednesday.
Pittman was not going to pass on shaking hands with Texas Coach Steve Sarkisian, an honored post-game ritual.
“I said, ‘Well, I’m damn sure going to go shake his hand,’ ” Pittman said. “And we did and I’m here, so it must have been OK.”
Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson indicated he was taken aback by the atmosphere for the game.
“I didn’t realize the rivalry was that big,” Jefferson said. “I’m from Mississippi, so I didn’t really know. I realized it was really big when I saw [Dallas Cowboys owner and Arkansas football letterman] Jerry Jones walk on the field.”
Linebacker Bumper Pool called taking down Texas an “unbeatable” highlight.
“I mean, the field storming afterward,” Pool said. “I remember my dad [Jeff] came and I just gave him a big hug. One of those moments you talk about your whole life, and for it to happen it’s surreal.”
Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman said during his media day visit that the team’s top six wideouts were Jadon Haselwood, Ketron Jackson Jr., Warren Thompson, Bryce Stephens, Jaedon Wilson and Matt Landers, the transfer from Georgia who did not go through spring drills.
Players like signees Isaiah Sategna, Quincey McAdoo, Sam Mbake and others have a chance to break into the top of the rotation.
Quarterback KJ Jefferson said one of those six has made a big leap since last season.
“My relationship has gone up with Ketron Jackson,” Jefferson said. “Being able to just come in and working with him one on one and just understanding and trying to pick his brain a little bit and how he runs his routes versus man coverage or versus zone coverage and just seeing what he thinks so we’re on one accord come game time.”
Texas A&M receiver Ainias Smith, who had been scheduled to appear today at SEC Media Days, will not make the trip after his suspension following his arrest early Wednesday on charges of DWI, unlawful carrying of a weapon and marijuana possession of less than 2 ounces.
The Houston Chronicle first reported that Smith, 21, was booked into Brazos County Jail and released on $8,000 bond after the incident, which began when he was pulled over for speeding at approximately 2:15 a.m.
The Chronicle, citing the probable cause statement, reported police found a “rolled joint of marijuana” and a gun with a “full magazine and round chambered” while searching his car. Smith an a passenger in the car both denied ownership of the gun or the marijuana, according to the police report cited in the newspaper.
Texas A&M Coach Jimbo Fisher is scheduled to be accompanied by defensive back Demani Richardson and offensive lineman Layden Robinson in Atlanta and the school is assessing whether it will add a third player.
Off the Hog
Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman is super proud of the water feature Hog statue at his family property on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs.
But Pittman would like admirers of the statue to stay off of it.
Pittman said the feature, which replaced a statue of a marlin breaking water, is like the famous “slobbering hog” because of the water feature. He said boat parades and other onlookers go by it on the water, but he wishes folks would not touch it as warned.
“This thing is incredible, to be honest with you,” Pittman said. “He’s got lights on him, red, whatever color lights you want. The water shoots up. It looks like he’s slobbering down into the lake.
“Boats on parade coming down to the house, they call the Hogs. There’s a sign that says, ‘Don’t get on the Hog.’ A few people that do. I wish they’d read the sign.”
Florida Coach Billy Napier got choked up at the podium in the main room on Wednesday when he was asked about his father, the late Bill Napier, who died at age 60 in 2017 four years after being diagnosed with ALS.
Bill Napier was a long-time high school coach in Georgia.
“You’re trying to get me here today,” Billy Napier said, his voice being to waiver when he was asked what he learned watching his father’s coaching career and how he continued to coach during his illness. “Dad showed, I think, sometimes when adversity strikes, you can choose character or you can choose to compromise, right?
“Dad did an unbelievable job. Every day he chose character. He relied on his foundation, which was his faith.
"He was a great example to a lot of people.
“Even to this day, it’s impacting me and a lot of other people, too. So thanks for the question.”
Laura Rutledge of the SEC Network announced SEC Nation, the weekly traveling show, will make its season debut in Fayetteville for the Arkansas vs. Cincinnati on Sept. 3.
Speaking at the main podium at the College Football Hall of Fame, Rutledge made the announcement then pitched to a pre-recorded video of Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman.
“SEC Nation is going to be here Week 1,” Pittman said before ending the quick hit in front of the jukebox in his office at the Smith Football Center.
The show, which last year featured Rutledge, Tim Tebow, Roman Harper, Jordan Rodgers and Paul Finebaum, airs live from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on game day Saturdays on the SEC Network.
SEC Nation has originated from Fayetteville five times, most recently for the Razorbacks’ 40-21 win over No. 15 Texas last year.
The Arkansas vs. Cincinnati game is scheduled to kick off at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN.
Flies with Angels
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett said Wednesday riding as a passenger in a Blue Angel jet flown by U.S. Navy pilot Lt. Griffiin Stangel in April was a huge career highlight.
“It’s the most incredible thing I’ve ever done in my life,” said Bennett, who had to pause for words when asked about it at SEC Media Days.
The flight was in conjunction with the Vidalia Onion Festival in Winder, Ga.
Bennett said he did not pass out or get sick after reaching 7.4 Gs, though he was weak kneed afterward.
Bennett said the pilot told him, “Let’s hit the speed of sound” during the flight. The speed of sound is 761.2 mph at sea level but it is slower than that at colder temperatures.
The entryway into the College Football Hall of Fame was lined with mostly Georgia and Florida fans on Wednesday, but a Razorback diehard stood out in their midst.
Damien Phillips, 42, a Little Rock Fair and UA graduate who has relocated to Atlanta, was on the scene with a Razorback visor and T-shirt and a mini helmet. The Coca-Cola employee asked for Wednesday off from work just to catch the Razorbacks.
“I’m a big fan of Arkansas and all the SEC,” Phillips said. “Having the opportunity for it to be right in my back yard, I couldn’t miss it."
Phillips, who moved to Atlanta in 2006, said he got to meet all three Razorbacks in attendance and got their signatures on his mini helmet, but he was still hoping to get to say hi to Coach Sam Pittman.
Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops and his wife, Chantel, became the majority owners in a Lexington bourbon distillery in 2020.
There was a special bourbon produced after the Wildcats beat Iowa 20-17 in last season’s Cirtus Bowl.
“Really appreciate you giving me a plug to the bourbon,” Stoops said to SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, who mentioned the distillery in his introduction of Stoops. “I’ll make sure I send a case to the commissioner’s office for all you fellas to sip on, preferably on a Sunday if we get a bad call and we have a few choice words.”
Headline: Pittman says don’t count out Carter
by Tom Murphy
ATLANTA — University of Arkansas defensive tackle Taurean Carter suffered a knee injury that required surgery during the team’s spring showcase on April 16, but Coach Sam Pittman isn’t counting him out on playing this season,
“Taurean’s so strong, and guys that have muscles around injuries tend to heal a little faster,” Pittman said. “He’s so strong, and he has a strong will to not be the norm. I think he’s progressing really well. I want him to [be back] more for him than I do for the team even.
“But he’s been very engaged, and he’s progressing rapidly. We’ll just kind of have to wait and see to be perfectly honest with you.”
Arkansas safety Jalen Catalon, a teammate of Carter’s at Mansfield (Texas) Legacy High, said Carter’s handling his injury situation well.
“I think when it first hit him he was definitely down,” Catalon said. “I went through the process. The first couple of weeks it’s tough and it’s continuing to be tough. I know him. I’ve known him my whole life and he’s a strong-minded guy. When he puts his mind to something he’s going to do it.
“He’s attacked the process really well. He’s asked me questions about it. The athletic staff at Arkansas is doing a great job with him, making sure he’s good and progressing well. I can’t wait to see his comeback.”
Headline: Hogs’ QB continues to grow as leader
by Wally Hall
ATLANTA — Comfortable was the word that came to mind.
KJ Jefferson was facing dozens of media types, and while he wasn’t totally relaxed, he wasn’t tense.
His answers came easily, and he was quick to flash his smile.
Like when he was asked what time he got up Wednesday to be in Atlanta by 8 a.m. for SEC Football Media Days.
“3:50,” he said quickly with a grin that turned into a grimace when he was asked what time he normally got up. “7:30,” he said
Jefferson and teammates Bumper Pool and Jalen Catalon accompanied head coach Sam Pittman to Atlanta for the yearly event that has been labeled the ‘Talking Time,” part of the season.
Jefferson didn’t dodge any questions even when asked about skipping the Manning Passing Academy that is by invite only.
“Groin injury,” he said.
Speculation was that he wanted to stay on the Arkansas campus and continue to work with the receivers who know the pressure on them with the loss of Treylon Burks.
It started with Jefferson and one receiver, then it was three receivers, and now it is all the receivers, the tight ends and the running backs.
“We tell the janitor to leave the lights on,” he said.
They meet after dinner, on weekends and on off days.
Throwing and catching. Getting their timing right. Knowing each other.
Sophomore receiver Ketron Jackson has been a pleasant surprise running great patterns, but Jefferson couldn’t say enough about Malik Hornsby.
Hornsby is listed as a quarterback and was the backup last season, but Pittman and offensive coordinator Kendal Briles want the speedy sophomore on the field.
In the spring, he lined up as a receiver on some plays. A couple of times he streaked by the defensive backs and Jefferson hit him in the hands.
“At first, I didn’t know if he could catch the ball,” Jefferson said with a laugh, “but he can.”
Pittman said Hornsby, who looked very thin last season, was up to 190 pounds, a gain of at least 10 pounds, but it is muscle and he’s lost none of his speed.
“We’ve got to find ways to get him on the field, he’s a playmaker,” Pittman said.
“I like having another quarterback on the field,” he said. “Opponents have no idea if he is going to get the snap or make a catch.”
Pittman did say that there would still be competition at the quarterback spot next month when the Razorbacks report, but if Jefferson wins the job, Hornsby will still be playing somewhere.
It seems a foregone conclusion that Jefferson is the leader going into fall ball.
He’s tightened up his 6-3, 242-pound body in the weight room.
In leading Arkansas to a 9-4 season — their best since 2011 — Jefferson completed 198 of 294 passes (67.3 %) for 2,676 yards and 21 touchdowns with only 4 interceptions.
The dual-threat quarterback was also the team’s leading rusher gaining 644 yards, although the Razorbacks had Trelon Smith, Raheim Sanders and Dominique Johnson rush for more than 500 yards each.
There is an obvious difference in Jefferson from last year to Wednesday.
He’s more confident and poised, but that was a work in progress all season.
In the first half of the season opener against Rice, he was 2-of-5 passing for 14 yards and had an interception.
In the second half, he was 10 of 16 for 114 yards and a touchdown, and it was like he never looked back. He was named MVP of the Outback Bowl.
Now, the more mature Jefferson is ready for more growth, and that started this summer when he asked the janitor to leave the lights on so he and his teammates could work out on their own.
Headline: ‘They excite the heck out of me’: Pittman expects good things from line
by Matt Jones
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas coach Sam Pittman spoke in glowing terms about his offensive line during an SEC Network appearance Wednesday in Atlanta.
The Razorbacks return four linemen who started at least 10 games last year, including every-game starters Ricky Stromberg at center and Brady Latham at left guard. Also back is right tackle Dalton Wagner, who missed three games after undergoing finger surgery, and right guard Beaux Limmer, an 11-game starter.
Left tackle Myron Cunningham is the only primary starter Arkansas must replace from last season’s team that allowed 30 sacks and paved the way for 2,961 rushing yards. The Razorbacks ranked seventh nationally in rushing and first among teams in a Power 5 conference.
“I was an O-line coach for a long, long time,” Pittman said, “and never was able to lead Power 5 in rushing, but we were able to do that last year.”
Tackles Luke Jones and Ty’Kieast Crawford were linemen who Pittman identified as having expanded roles this year. Jones, a Notre Dame transfer who battled Latham for the left guard spot last year, is being evaluated as a replacement for Cunningham at left tackle.
The 6-5, 347-pound Crawford played in every game last season, primarily on special teams, after transferring from North Carolina-Charlotte.
“Ty’Kieast Crawford is going to be a guy that’s going to play somewhere in there,” Pittman said. “This guy is an exceptional football player and had a great offseason.”
Those comments echoed Pittman’s sentiments about Crawford during the spring when he said, “There’s a lot of teams that can win a lot of games with Ty’Kieast Crawford. He’s a good player; I mean, like a legit SEC-good player.”
Arkansas offensive coordinator Kendal Briles also spoke well of Crawford during his post-spring analysis that was published in Hawgs Illustrated.
“We are really proud of his growth and maturity this spring,” Briles said. “I would not have felt very good about him coming out of fall camp to say he was going to be a starter, but after this spring I do. I feel really good about his knowledge and what he’s done with his body. He just needs to continue to progress over the summer. He’s going to be a really good player.”
Crawford is likely to push Wagner for playing time at right tackle, but has also worked as a guard in practice and could potentially play left tackle if needed. Wagner has 28 career starts, but has missed playing time due to various injuries, including one to his back.
Pittman also praised the leadership of Stromberg and offensive line coach Cody Kennedy, who received a hefty pay raise to $700,000 during the offseason after he was approached about the vacant offensive line job at Georgia. Kennedy was a semifinalist for the Broyles Award last year.
“Four of the five (starters) are coming back with all the running backs, and of course the No. 1 rusher we had was (returning quarterback) KJ Jefferson,” Pittman said. “They excite the heck out of me. They’ve got a great coach in Cody Kennedy.”
Headline: Pregame show will be in Fayetteville for season opener
by Matt Jones
FAYETTEVILLE — The “SEC Nation” pregame show will originate from Fayetteville prior to the Arkansas-Cincinnati football game on Sept. 3, SEC Network announced Wednesday.
The network did not announce where its set will be located. The show airs live from 9 to 11 a.m. on SEC Network.
“SEC Nation” has visited Fayetteville five times previously, most recently on Sept. 11, 2021, prior to Arkansas’ 40-21 victory over Texas. This year’s cast has not been announced, but last year’s included host Laura Rutledge and analysts Tim Tebow, Jordan Rodgers, Roman Harper and Paul Finebaum.
Arkansas’ game against Cincinnati is scheduled to kick off at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN.
Headline: Jefferson feels underrated entering 2022
by Scottie Bordelon
FAYETTEVILLE — Depending on the media outlet or the analyst, the standing varies for Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson among the best in the SEC.
According to Pro Football Focus’ Anthony Treash, Jefferson is not one of the four best quarterbacks in the conference. Alabama’s Bryce Young, South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler, Mississippi State’s Will Rogers and Kentucky’s Will Levis make up that group, according to Treash.
SEC Network analyst Tim Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback at Florida, did not include Jefferson in his list of the five best SEC quarterbacks this week. Jordan Rodgers, who played at Vanderbilt, placed Jefferson fourth in his top five.
The Razorbacks’ second-year starter pays attention to preseason lists and projections. Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said this spring that Jefferson’s No. 14 ranking — out of 14 quarterbacks — by a media outlet last year was a motivator for him throughout the 2021 season.
This year he is not as concerned about what people say. But he does believe he is underrated in the conference.
“I am,” Jefferson said in an interview with SEC Network host Peter Burns on Wednesday at SEC Media Days in Atlanta. “I feel like I am, but, I mean, I don’t try to too much dwell on it. I mean, the only thing I’m worried about is playing ball and just getting back with my team and working.”
Jefferson finished last season with 2,676 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, and 664 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns.
Against Ole Miss he became the sixth quarterback in the SEC since 2000 to throw for three touchdowns and rush for three touchdowns in the same game. Two of the other five players — Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and LSU’s Joe Burrow — won the Heisman Trophy.
Jefferson, in a way, compares his style of play to that of former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2010.
“Just the swagger that he brings to the quarterback position,” Jefferson said. “I mean, there’s nothing like it. That’s what I bring.
“Coming from where I come from, I’ve always been doubted. Adding it as fuel to the fire and keeping it pushing just knowing that I can’t just keep dwelling on it and looking at it over and over again. The more I look at it my mind is not in the right spot and I need to be out there working.”
Razorbacks safety Jalen Catalon understands where the Newtown comparisons come from, but he believes Jefferson simply wants to be his own player.
“He wants to say I did it a mile away, for sure,” Catalon said. “But KJ is a team player. KJ always wants to make sure he’s right himself so he can be right for us. He’s always holding everybody accountable and (in) workouts when we do skills and drills and stuff like that.
“He’s a great quarterback, great leader. And like I said, I know that’s my quarterback.”
Headline: Passing game will be by committee post-Burks
by Scottie Bordelon
Arkansas capped Sam Pittman’s second season leading the program in dominating fashion against Penn State at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.
The Razorbacks won 24-10 behind a strong defensive effort and a season-best 353-yard performance in the rushing game. Each of Arkansas’ touchdowns came on the ground and the team averaged 6.09 yards per carry.
The 353 yards were the most the Razorbacks rushed for in a game since Nov. 19, 2016, when they rushed for 357 yards at Mississippi State in a 58-42 victory.
Pittman, though, saw some red flags in Tampa while playing the first game without receiver Treylon Burks, who was drafted by the Tennessee Titans 18th overall in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft. Burks skipped the bowl after he declared for the draft.
Arkansas totaled 98 passing yards and averaged a season-low 4.9 yards per attempt against Penn State. Quarterback KJ Jefferson was also intercepted by the Nittany Lions — his first interception in six games.
Replacing Burks is one of the primary question marks surrounding the Razorbacks in 2022. Arkansas addressed its needs on the perimeter with plug-and-play receiver talent, but concerns remain.
“I don’t know if you replace a guy one for one,” Pittman said Wednesday at SEC Media Days in Atlanta. “I don’t think you can there. We’re going to have to do it by committee. I’ll say this: We look like a wide receiver group, we run like a wide receiver group. KJ is going to have to get comfortable with where these guys are going to be.
“He has to get comfortable with their speed, how they run their routes. That was certainly the No. 1 thing offensively that was concerning.”
Jadon Haselwood (Oklahoma) and Matt Landers (Toledo) are two transfer portal additions at receiver who Pittman believes in. Haselwood went through spring drills with the Razorbacks and Landers was previously at Georgia when Pittman was the Bulldogs’ offensive line coach.
Landers committed to Arkansas in mid-May, roughly one month after spring practices.
“Haselwood has not achieved what, out of high school, they said he was going to,” Pittman said. “So I’m saying that’s a hungry man. He’s also a very talented guy. Matt Landers is the same way. We want that performance out of them next year. The way they have worked in the offseason and this summer, I believe that they’ll be poised to do that.
“I believe they have to do well for us to replace Burks."
Ketron Jackson, the highest-rated player in the Razorbacks’ 2021 recruiting class, according to 247 Sports, will be counted on to be a playmaker in his second season. And Warren Thompson, who transferred to Arkansas from Florida State ahead of the 2021 season, is the team’s leading returning receiver.
Jackson and Thomson combined for 24 receptions last season.
“I think Ketron Jackson is going to have his best year,” Pittman said. “I think he’s ready to go. Warren Thompson is ready to go.”
Pittman also provided insight on the team’s top six players at the position. Jaedon Wilson and Bryce Stephens, for now, round out the group.
Stephens caught three passes for five yards in 2021, and Wilson did not record any statistics. Stephens’ greatest impact last season came on punt return.
Pittman likes who the program brought in at receiver in the freshman class, but added it is still to be determined if “they can help us or not.”
Quarterback Malik Hornsby, who worked at receiver throughout spring drills, may contribute. Pittman said Hornsby has natural ball skills.
“He’s fast,” Pittman said. “We need to get him on the field. If he doesn’t beat KJ out in fall camp, he needs to be on the field. He’s fast, up to 190 pounds now. He can withstand the heat, hits, physicality.
“The other thing that helped us is (South Florida transfer quarterback) Cade Fortin. Getting Cade Fortin in at quarterback allows us a little bit to move Malik Hornsby out and look at him at wideout. He’s a good enough player that he needs to be on the field.
“He’s certainly got a chance to help us there, as well.”
Jefferson explained how he is building camaraderie with his receivers.
“Just working each and every day with them,” he said. “On weekends, off days, nights, we’re all just in there working out together and getting confidence in those young guys. And then just building chemistry and timing so when it’s game time we’re putting on a show and everything looks up to par and we’re clicking on all cylinders.”
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